When the Enlisted Evaluation System changed, CMSAF Cody believed that the new system would not lead to backstabbing–many Airmen I’ve spoken to would have a different opinion on the matter.  In examining that system we have to keep in mind how it is administered, which leads to a question; is the system broken or is our application of it wrong?  I would argue that it lies in our application of the system.

I have noted that many people believe the system is largely detached from its primary purpose–to reward those top performers in their primary duties.  I’ve seen SNCOs make forced distribution recommendations–without the supervisor’s involvement.  I think we pushed the system to its current state.  Instead of giving some level of input from supervisors in the process, we detach an Airman’s day-to-day work and look only at what SNCOs ‘see’ of each person–a fairly limited view.  Hence, we see the ‘brown-noser’ when someone deliberately works to be seen by supervision–they understand who the decision makers are.

What would happen if we involved the individual’s immediate supervisor in the process?  It’s a simple change.  SNCOs would guide it, but the recommendation ‘rankings’ would be determined by their supervisors as a whole in a discussion forum.  I tried it and it worked wonderfully.  The SSgts that we ranked for recommendations felt that they had a fair shot because their TSgt supervisors had a say in the room when that discussion was going on.  My role as the SNCO; check the stack against records to ensure they supported–I was the one that spoke last during the meeting when I gave any opinions.  If I did speak before that, it was to guide the discussion or prompt thinking.  The TSgts even examined EPRs (we’d done an impromptu EPR review board before this discussion).  You’d be amazed at how insightful the recommendations are.  Plus, when you do this, you are giving some control back to supervisors and shoring up their credibility with their subordinates.  So, look at the way you or your organization integrates the Enlisted Evaluation System into it and ask yourself; is it the system’s fault, or is it in the execution?